16 December 2015

by Ian McDonald

I found this great juvenile while looking in the library for more books by Ian McDonald, whose The Dervish House I recently finished and thoroughly enjoyed.

This book isn’t a complex interweaving of plot-lines and cultures like The Dervish House, although there is some of the latter. It’s a ‘straightforward’ tale about a mentally gifted but otherwise normal adolescent boy who follows his kidnapped physicist father into a parallel universe — the book takes Hugh Everett’s ‘many worlds’ hypothesis of quantum mechanics as fact — in order to rescue him. It features a fabulous airship piloted by a teenage girl runaway with snow-white hair, a sexy evil villainess and a device that allows them, as well as various other props and characters, to jump from one universe to another.

Although written for young people, I found the book compelling and convincing as an adult reader. The scientific speculation is credible and so is the psychology, the characters are vivid and easy to identify with, the level of tension and excitement is perfectly maintained and the whole thing is thoroughly believable. It also drew me right in.

Congratulations to Mr McDonald on a modest but perfectly realized achievement. Now to find the other books in the series.

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